ESPNcricinfo – It is an image which seems to have taken forever to appear, probably for Jofra Archer, and most certainly for England cricket fans.
And even though the sight of the country’s newest match-winning prospect in full England kit has arrived quicker than some expected, not least the man himself, images of him posing for official squad photos ahead of Friday’s ODI against Ireland show a man who looks ready for business.
Barbados-born Archer, who recently became eligible to represent England after the ECB’s qualification period was reduced from seven years to three, is poised to make his debut after being included in the squads for the one-off ODI against Ireland on Friday, a T20I against Pakistan on Sunday and five ODIs against Pakistan.
He was left out of England’s preliminary World Cup squad but the upcoming matches present an opportunity to press his case for inclusion in the final squad, which needs to be finalised by May 23.
Archer’s supporters speak of his incredible talent, most recently showcased in his exploits for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. For his part, Archer described the speed of his elevation to the England squad as overwhelming.
“I’ve worked pretty much all my life for this moment and I just want to tackle it and put my best foot forward,” he said upon his selection. “Hopefully I get a chance to play and do myself justice.” But he also stated he did not “want to step on anyone’s toes”.
Archer’s potential call-up for the World Cup has sparked debate among the squad’s incumbent fast bowlers. Some with reservations have argued that bringing a new player into a well-established set-up could destabilise the side, or be harsh on any player who misses out, having helped England become the top one-day side in the world.
However, Alex Hales’ expulsion from all England squads – including for the World Cup – in the wake of his ban for using recreational drugs has dominated the agenda in the build-up to Archer’s debut, and has also led to three more players – Ben Duckett, Dawid Malan and James Vince – being included in the squads for the Ireland and Pakistan series.
While Hales’ 21-day ban will have been served well before the World Cup, the ECB this week decided to withdraw him from their squads, citing a need for “creating the right environment within the team and ensuring that there are no unnecessary distractions”.
Hales has not been a first-choice player in England’s white-ball squad for some time, but was seen as someone who could enhance the depth of the squad, particularly amid injuries to key and fringe players alike. His omission has opened the door for another face to appear in the England line-up, meaning that Archer won’t be alone in pressing his claims for a World Cup berth.